The UNLV Skatin’ Rebels hosted their annual Scarlet vs Gray inter-squad scrimmage Saturday night, highlighted by physicality and fast hockey.
The teams came out of the gates in the first period with high energy, playing a north-south game with very little sustained zone time for either team.
The first goal of the contest would come early as Team Scarlet’s Paxton Malone would strike first, assisted by Jayson Dimizio. Soon after, Team Gray came dangerously close to tying the game, but the post deflected the puck to the corner.
Team Scarlet added another tally at the 13:35 mark courtesy of David Lenzin’s goal assisted by Jake Berry. Team Scarlet would go shorthanded after their lead was extended by Lenzin.
Team Gray had a huge scoring chance 10 seconds into their powerplay. However, Scarlet goaltender Zack Wickson denied Gray’s cross-crease attempt. Gray would kill their own powerplay 40 seconds later after Adam Victorino was handed a two-minute minor for tripping.
Gray would have a successful first penalty kill of the night, then Team Scarlet would extend their lead to 3-0 following a goal from Nick Govig before the first frame wrapped up.
Goaltender Bryce Crowley would come in for Team Gray for the second frame, gaining support from his offense immediately when Brendon Manning scored 39 seconds into the period. Five minutes later, Gray would continue to pour on the offense. However, they found the post and not the twine.
Team Gray’s Max Johnson would take a tripping penalty 10 minutes into the period, setting up Team Scarlet for their second powerplay of the game. Scarlet’s powerplay displayed excellent puck movement leading to a rocket of a one-timer from Alec Johnson at the left faceoff dot to put Scarlet up 4-1.
Team Scarlet would go on the powerplay once more a minute later and convert once again via a goal from Nick Flanders.
A brief exchange of penalties led to an uneventful four-on-four sequence. When both teams got back to even strength, the offense opened up a bit more. Team Gray’s Ezekiel Estrada missed the net on a snapshot off the wing, giving way to a Scarlet four-on-one rush the other way. The exchange resulted in a tap-in goal by Angelos Tsalafos.
Michael Boutoussov would add an extra insurance tally for Team Scarlet late in the frame to put the final nail in the coffin. Team Scarlet would be victorious with a final score of 7-1.
Following the high intensity matchup, the teams joined together in a fun shootout to give way for the players to display their skill one-on-one. Team Gray would take the shootout by a score of 4-2 in a display of creativity and skill.
Throughout the entirety of the game, there was plenty of physicality, but all of the players smiled and laughed at the end of the game like nothing happened.
The team had a whole season and a half off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all of the players have gelled together nicely since their return to the ice.
“This is the first time we have all seen each other since being home for the summer, and it’s good to be on the ice with our teammates,” Paxton Malone said. “Whether it was on the ice, golfing, just being together, it was good to be back.”
Both teams kept the energy up throughout the duration of the game. Aside from the speed, physicality and laughing, the team had players communicating like a regular season game, especially Boutoussov, who could be heard at every stage of the game.
“We’re just really passionate about the sport,” Skatin’ Rebels captain Jared ‘Rick’ Erickson said. “We’re excited to be back as a team.”
UNLV Rebel Hockey opens up their season Oct. 1 at City National Arena against the University of Illinois Fighting Illini, and with just under one month remaining until the season starts, there is still work to be done.
“Systems would be our main thing,” Skatin’ Rebels Head Coach Anthony Greener said. “They ran a good powerplay [tonight] with good movement throughout the game, but that is all going to get better in this next one.”